"Narratime": Postmodern Temporality and Narrative

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Association for Interdisciplinary Studies


The default mode for too many historians is a discredited view of time. Uncomfortable with disciplinary uncertainty and distrustful of disorder, historians resort to linear chronology and a conception of a neutral temporal framework whose origin is Newtonian. The author first draws on a variety of postmodern theorists to argue for the legitimacy of "multiple temporality" and a plurality of non-hegemonic cultural narratives. He then surveys developments in photography, the Western novel, Third World literature, sculpture, and recorded music. These aesthetic contexts display an extraordinary richness of temporal representation, a richness that historians would do well to attend to. Our technological environment, he concludes, has "refigured" both time and space in very Einsteinian ways. Thus, as post-modern culture multiplies temporal and narrative possibilities, it will become untenable to embrace conventional senses of linear chronology. Theorists discussed include Raymond Williams, Walter Benjamin, Elizabeth Deeds Ermarth and Roland Barthes. Analysis is of such artists as Faith Ringgold, Jenny Holzer, Ann Hamilton and Barbara Kruger.




Winders, James A. ""Narratime": Postmodern Temporality and Narrative." Issues in Integrative Studies 11 (1993): 27-43.